A lot of people might not really understand what celiac disease is but since the number of people who suffer from it is rising, it is our duty to spread awareness about it. No, it is not a simple gluten allergy, it is so much more, and it can affect people’s lives in so many different ways.
What exactly is celiac disease (CD)? It is an autoimmune disorder that prevents people from eating gluten. If they ingest it, their immune system is going to attack itself thus cause a lot of damage to the small intestine. By damage, we mean that the lining of the small intestine is going to deteriorate which further means that it will not be able to absorb nutrients that the body needs causing various health issues.
The symptoms of this condition are diarrhea, sudden weight loss, fatigue, constipation, anemia, skin rash, and even depression. If left untreated it can cause numerous other health problems, and you can read about them on the ImawareTM blog. As you can see CD requires people to have a special diet and carefully choose the food they eat.
So you might say that living with this disease is not that difficult. All that one has to do is watch what they eat. However, this is not true. This disorder can greatly affect one’s social life, and that is going to be the topic of this article.
It is a completely normal occurrence, and quite enjoyable, to meet with friends once in a while and go out to a new restaurant in town to try their food. It sounds like a great evening right? Well, you are right, for most people it is. However, for those who are diagnosed with CD, it can cause severe anxiety.
Even though there are some meals that don’t contain gluten on the menu, it still doesn’t mean that the food is celiac safe. People will get sick even if they eat something that has traces of this protein. All that it takes is to prepare the meals in the same pots and pans. Since only a few gluten-free restaurants actually cook the food separately this means that going to eat to a new place can pose a lot of risk for you.
You don’t want to come across as selfish and be the one who always determines where you are going to eat. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter how understanding people are, the chances are that after some time they are going to be irritated. On the other hand, if you want to indulge the others, it means that you get to sit there, an entire evening, sipping a glass of water, and not eating anything. This is just an awful reminder of the disease you have.
Furthermore, what about big Thanksgiving or Christmas family dinners? Of course, your immediate family comprehends the severity of the disorder, and they are doing everything they can to support you. Still, when it comes to this type of gatherings, you also get excluded. In most cases, it means that you have to cook your own food and bring it with you. You probably do not want to make your mom cook an additional meal, especially if you have a large family, which means that a lot of food has to be prepared.
Family gatherings bring us to our next point – explaining. Yes, you can teach those that are closest to you about this disease, but when you go to a dinner party with some people that you don’t get to see too often, a million questions are going to fly your way. What is the CD? How does it affect you? What are the symptoms? What happens if you eat something that isn’t gluten-free? What do you eat? By far, the worst sentence that someone can tell you is – “I could never live that way.” If you know someone who has been diagnosed with CD, never, but NEVER make this statement. Yes, we all know how difficult this can be, but what your friend needs the most is encouragement.
Oh, and we cannot forget “Why don’t you just take a tiny bite? There is no way that such a small amount of gluten can harm you. You are probably exaggerating.” If someone says this to you, just take a deep breath and walk away.
Moreover, there is another situation we are going to tell you about. Someone invites you to a birthday or housewarming party, there is going to be alcohol and food, and even if you do not feel like going, it may be perceived as a rude act, so in the end, you get ready and go.
You are enjoying yourself, mingling with people, and then a person brings a tray of sweets or some other food and offers it to you. You have no choice, you have to decline it. The problem is that this can be perceived as impolite. Maybe not by the host, if you know them well, but by other people you have just met. Once again, you are in a situation where you have to explain everything to basically strangers. Maybe you are a private person, and you don’t want everyone to know about your health problems.
The last setting that we are going to discuss is the workplace. If you work in an office building, there probably is a kitchen where you can prepare some simple meals, or on the other hand, a cafeteria where you can purchase your lunch. Even though having a gluten-free menu sounds great, you can never be sure how the food is prepared or whether or not you will get sick.
In addition, there are usually pastries and doughnuts that you cannot eat, and let’s not forget about birthday cakes that your co-workers usually bring to work and those corporate parties that you have to attend. Oftentimes people want to make sure that there are different kinds of food that everyone can eat, but they might not always fully comprehend what it means to be gluten-free. Yes, this is very thoughtful of them, but you are probably going to have to say no to whatever they are offering you.
To sum up, these are only three situations where people who have the celiac disease get excluded. Since we haven’t discussed CD in great detail, you can learn more about it on the Healthcare Weekly website. If you know someone who has just been diagnosed, the only thing you can do to help them is to be supportive and understanding.